Monthly Archives: March 2012

Seriously, answer me this: what do homosexual marriages lack that’s present in all heterosexual marriages?

As the time for submissions to the Senate and House of Representatives inquiries into the I-can’t-believe-we’re-still-seriously-arguing-whether-we-should-stop-discriminating-against-gay-people marriage equality bills comes to a close, it seems to me to be a particularly pertinent time to revisit the fundamental question in the whole debate: why on Earth shouldn’t the law consider marriages between gay people marriages?

And that unavoidably comes down to this question: can you identify a single factor that is an essential element of heterosexual marriages that cannot be present in a homosexual marriage?

Here are some that sound like they might work, but actually don’t, because none of them are present in all marriages now:

  • Procreation: It’s very difficult to find a single person who will seriously argue that heterosexual couples where procreation is impossible (for example where the woman has had a hysterectomy) should be prevented from marrying. I’m certainly not that person. Unfortunately for advocates of the “procreation is essential to marriage” argument, if you genuinely believe that “procreation (or the possibility of procreation) is essential to marriage”, then you must believe that these are not marriages. If you believe the government should not recognise marriages where procreation is impossible, and you think the Marriage Act should enforce that belief, then you must be advocating for a change yourself to make procreation (or the possibility of procreation) an essential element. Because it isn’t in the present Marriage Act. Let’s repeat this: if you are happy with the Marriage Act recognising marriages between permanently infertile couples, then you cannot consistently oppose it recognising same sex couples on the grounds that they are also infertile.
  • “Uniqueness”: There is something “unique” about male-female pairings other than the ability to procreate. To which I can only ask: what precisely is “unique” about all heterosexual marriages? Nobody putting this line ever specifies what exactly they mean by this beyond “complementarity”:
  • Complementarity: A marriage must, this “argument” asserts, have a masculine participant and a feminine participant so that there’s the complementary benefits of each. Except that there are many masculine women and feminine men. There are many marriages the law recognises right now where both participants are masculine. Or both feminine. There is no requirement in the Marriage Act that men be “masculine” or that women be “feminine”, or that there must be a representative of each stereotypical gender role in the couple. It’s not a requirement of marriage right now, and nor is it “implied”. If you genuinely believed those complementary roles are essential before a marriage can be recognised by the law, then you’d have to be calling for a change to the definition of marriage to include that requirement, so all these non-stereotypical heterosexual marriages can be stopped.
  • Role models: The assertion here is that children have a “right” to a mother and a father. More specifically, to a parent with a vagina and a parent with a penis (even though many fathers are stereotypically feminine and many mothers are stereotypically masculine; apparently the essential element is that children need to know that their parents have different genitals). And this should be enforced in the marriage law (even though an increasing proportion of children in Australia have unmarried parents and the Marriage Act doesn’t affect them at all). Anyone who seriously argues that the law should somehow be creating such a “right” for children has to tackle (a) the number of children raised by single parents; and (b) all the laws where the state actually takes a parent away. For example, if you argue that all children have a right to a father where possible, are you arguing that having children should be a full bar to the criminal courts imposing a long custodial sentence on an offender? Because that’s taking away the kids’ access to their father, which you’re asserting is their “right”. Alternatively you probably should just concede that you don’t really believe that kids have a “right” to a father or a mother at all, even where it’s possible.
  • Approved by religion: The Marriage Act has long recognised non-religious marriages. Sorry, but the country stopped asserting that marriage must conform to religious teachings decades ago. If you’re seriously proposing that all civil marriages must be banned, then you can make this argument on those grounds. If you’re not, then you don’t really believe it. And even if you do, based on the number of civil marriages solemnised every year, clearly the law (and most Australians) don’t agree with you.

So, sadly, none of those objections stand up to any scrutiny. Can anyone name a single essential element of marriage that is absent homosexual marriages? A single one?

I thought not.

Open Government

The Attorney-General’s department explains why, despite the existence of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and the government’s feigned belief in “open government”, you mustn’t know with whom in the copyright industry it’s talking as it prepares more draconian anti-piracy laws to make up for the fact that the content industry keeps losing in court in its attempt to make everyone else pay to enforce its broken business model:

the Attorney-General’s Department stated in its response to Delimiter’s FoI request that it “does not hold” a list of the attendees who actually attended the meeting.

That’s really, really difficult to believe. What about the department’s notes on who said what at the meeting?

the department has redacted almost all of the information previously contained in the documents — including 14 pages of notes taken by a departmental staffer at the event and other four pages of notes taken by a senior staffer from Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s department.

Which they had to do because:

“Disclosure of the documents while the negotiations are still in process, would, in my view, prejudice, hamper and impede those negotiations to an unacceptable degree,” wrote [Attorney-General’s Department senior legal officer] Purcell. That would, in my view, be contrary to the interests of good government — which would, in turn, be contrary to the public interest.”

It is “contrary to the public interest” for people who are NOT the government or one particular self-interested set of lobbyists to be involved in drafting legislation. Why should anyone but the content industry be involved before the government’s position has already been formulated? Why would it want to hear from other people and industries (such as ISPs and any internet-based business in Australia) who are affected by this sort of legislation? What’s it got to do with the ordinary members of the public whose freedoms these laws inevitably reduce, anyway?

There is nothing corrupt and sinister about this at all. Relax.

Sadly racist twitterers to be publicly shamed

I almost feel sorry for these apparently ignorant and racist people. What they need is a gentle discussion to confront the reasons for their weird prejudices against people of different races to them.

What they’re going to get is a public shaming.

The question is: will this reform them? Will they see why what they wrote was so stupid and hurtful? Will they recant? Or will they dig in? Will others like them reconsider their views or will they become even more resentful and committed to the hideous views that seem to annoy their tormenters?

On the other hand, just letting this stuff go through to the keeper encourages it. Encourages these people to think that what they’re saying is a reasonable conclusion that reasonable people could reach.

UPDATE: Most of the twitterers in the above image (which won’t upload for some reason) have now deleted their accounts.

And if more than half of the people of Everton want all Queensland children indoctrinated, why shouldn’t they get their wish?

Good news for Christians in Queensland worried that their kids won’t come to Christianity without regular indoctrination at school – the former head of Scripture Union, “the largest employer of school chaplains in Australia”, has won a seat in the weekend’s Queensland election.

So don’t worry. Your little tyke’s going to be tricked into permanently associating spirituality with Christianity before he or she has finished learning to read.

PS Nice work, Queensland. You know what they say: absolute power… leads to responsive, representative, democratic government. I know you’ve been flirting with giving governments unchecked power for a while – having a unicameral system has always been a great start – but by crushing all effective opposition so they have to beg the government for staff, you’ve really set yourselves up for a glorious return of the Joh era. Enjoy.

(Via Eric.)

I asked the Australian Naming Authority that I just made up, and they said it was fine

I’m one of the founders of the pro-marriage Australian Family Lobby – an organisation which, despite… no, because of its name, actually advocates for the opposite of the far-right Australian “Family” Association and Bill Muehlenberg’s “Family” Council of Victoria (that campaign against families) and Jim Wallace’s Australian “Christian” Lobby (that seems obsessed with things Christ never talked about). Unlike those cranks, we’re rather conservative – we think marriage is a good thing, a positive for both society and couples, and something that should be encouraged.

(Yes, when we stop being ludicrously busy we should probably update the site at some point.)

Anyway, that’s why I was particularly amused by the market fundamentalists at the shadowy Institute for “Public” Affairs setting up an “Australian Environment Foundation” to campaign against the well-known environmental organisations, as discussed on Monday night’s Media Watch. The IPA is obviously well aware that journalists are lazy, and they’ll publish a media release by any old loons if the name they choose for their organisation sounds like it’s important and credible.

And, after all, there’s nothing particularly dishonest about the name of the AEF. Just because they campaign for policies that damage the natural environment doesn’t mean they’re not campaigning for an environment. A polluted hellscape is still an environment. And if there’s enough of it, it becomes the environment, too.

And even if you do take “environment” to mean “natural environment”, it’s not like the name has to indicate which side on that subject the organisation takes. The Cancer Council actively fights against cancer. Why shouldn’t the Australian Environment Foundation actively fight against the cancer of an unspoiled, commercially non-viable natural environment?

Don’t impose your hangups on them.

An industry that deserves to lose money

A bluray compilation we bought recently claimed that it came with a digital copy that you could play on an iphone or a computer or whatever. You’ve paid for the movie, you should be able to play it in whatever format you like.

This is the process the movie company thinks is going to compete with people just downloading a video file that works straight away.

In the package is a data DVD with a low-res version of the movie you bought on bluray (thus immediately being completely pointless to play from your computer onto a big screen, since it’s vastly lower quality than the bluray you’ve bought.)

To get it onto the computer (and then a portable device), you have to:

  1. Insert the DVD copy disk.
  2. Enter a string of letters and numbers that’s obviously a single-use code (and you have to do this a short time after buying the bluray – the codes actually expire).
  3. Let iTunes add it to your hard disk somewhere within the iTunes labyrinthine file system – but despite you having entered a code, iTunes doesn’t record that you own it, so you can’t just download a copy straight to any of your devices connected to iTunes.
  4. And then you can transfer your low-quality version to high-def devices.

Why can’t you just transfer the movie from the bluray with the high-def copy? Why doesn’t the single-use code actually enable you to redownload the movie from the system that’s “authorised” it?

It’s the same reason why if you put one of their discs in your player you have to sit through unskippable anti-piracy threats and lies.

Because these people don’t give a damn about their customers. They don’t think you own squat. You’ve paid them, but it’s still theirs, and they will only begrudgingly let you access it at all. Let alone in a manner convenient to you.

If governments weren’t busy covering these companies’ backsides by passing ever more ludicrous copyright legislation, they’d have long since disappeared.

UPDATE: The official DVD packaging for Sony’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo actually looks like a pirated copy:

One of the commenters suggests:

They want it to resemble a DRM-free no-previews no-ads copy -to be more attractive to the customer.

Songs to wallow to

I’ve recently noticed a somewhat disturbing running theme in some of my favourite songs:

They’re not exactly uplifting subjects, are they? It’s a good thing I don’t rely on music to cheer me up.